When police properly arrest violent criminals, I am the first to applaud them. When police perform good deeds, like directing traffic at ballgames and accident scenes, I am the first to thank them.
This does not, however, elevate them above the rest of us.
Before I go any further, I want to extend my thoughts, prayers and condolences to the widow, children and friends of Zackari Parrish, the Douglas County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed when responding to a domestic violence call in south suburban Denver on December 31, 2017.
Parrish’s death, while undeniably tragic, was no more tragic than any other death. As a Christian, I believe that God is “no respecter of persons” – Acts 10:34 – and does not value the souls of police officers any more than any other souls.
Why, then, is the death of a police officer and the memorial service given so much attention? His funeral procession was no ordinary one. Indeed, an 18-mile stretch of road between Castle Rock, Colorado, and Cherry Hills Community Church in nearby Highlands Ranch was closed for over 3 hours. Much of this was along Interstate 25, the most important traffic artery connecting Denver with points south.
And, according to the Denver Post: “The sanctuary that holds 5,000 at Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch was filled. More watched from an overflow room across the street at Valor Christian High School. For more than an hour beforehand, a motorcade of several hundred law officers weaved through the streets following a hearse with Parrish’s remains. People who never met him lined University Boulevard and Wildcat Reserve Parkway, where the evergreen trees were tied with blue ribbon, holding American flags and handmade signs.”
Contrast this with my friend and business colleague – let’s call him Bill – who died very suddenly while working out at the end of May 2016. Cherry Hills held the memorial service, where a few hundred people showed up. Was Bill’s passing any less tragic? Was the grief of his family and friends any less? Did God value Bill’s soul any less? Did Bill’s life somehow matter less?
May God have mercy on your soul if you answered “yes” to any of these questions.
Most troubling is that a large segment of society has elevated the police into some sort of what the late great William Grigg called a “punitive priesthood”. The fact that their job is riskier than most jobs has caused many millions to heap huge amounts of undue praise upon them.
When you become a cop, you know that you will come in somewhat frequent contact with some of the more undesirable elements of humanity and that you are taking more than a few risks. However, cops do not have the most dangerous job. In fact, cops don’t even rank in the top 10 for on-the-job fatality rate. Moreover, on-the-job cop fatalities are at almost a 50-year low. In fact, more cops died in traffic accidents in 2017 than from being shot. There simply is no “war on cops”.
Then why do police occupy such an exalted place in the minds of so many? Perhaps, this is because they are part of the government. Governments and their toadies in the media – both left and right – lie profusely and endlessly.
America has an absolutely massive problem with police violence, which is made even worse by the refusal of so many to acknowledge it. Almost 1200 Americans were killed by cops in 2017. Contrast this with the 19 killed by Islamic terrorists. You are over 60 times more likely to be killed by a cop than by an Islamic terrorist.
Google “police brutality”. The list of examples is endless. And do likewise on YouTube. And look here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here for countless other examples. Indeed, American cops kill more people in each week than cops in other countries kill in years.
In all fairness, some of these killings were probably justified by some cops’ lives being in imminent danger. Cops are not always wrong. However, to casually assume that every such killing was justified, and to nonchalantly presume their victims “had to have done something to deserve it” isn’t just stupid. It’s also dangerous. To assume that the cops are always right and to always give them the unconditional benefit of the doubt is likewise not just abjectly stupid. It’s also abjectly dangerous.
To make matters worse, cops who abuse and kill almost always get away with their crimes. And no, rocking a badge and a blue uni does not excuse criminality. Crimes by cops are crimes nonetheless. When cops commit crimes, “good cops” never show up and arrest them. And police are far more militarized than they were a decade ago.
Throughout history, the most murderous organizations have always been governments. And it is the police or their equivalent who get the dirt under their fingernails carrying out their crimes. And whereas private sector criminals have two hands, governments have millions of hands. And they also employ very effective propaganda techniques to lull their subjects into blindly supporting them. Remind yourself of that whenever you hear someone say “blue lives matter”.
Indeed, blue lives do matter. But no more than anyone else’s.
Rick Ferguson was the senior pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in northwest Denver until his untimely passing in a car accident in 2002. I once heard him say that he always insisted on being called by his first name, even by his congregation. This was because, while he had greater responsibilities around the church, he was no more significant than anyone else in the eyes of God. If a very influential senior pastor whose duty is to preach and proclaim the Word of God is no more significant than anyone else, then nobody is more significant than anyone else in the eyes of God.
Apprehending violent offenders and bringing them to justice is likewise a solemn responsibility. But it does not make one’s life matter more than anyone else’s. And no one’s life, no matter how lowly their circumstances, matters any less than anyone else’s either.